Position coach Brian Callahan has five tight ends on the spring roster, but will welcome three more in the summer once signed freshmen Nathan Bursch, Jake Paulson and Nate Umlor enroll.
The five who are on the team now are Colton Beebe, Ko Kieft, Brandon Lingen, Bryce Witham and Nate Wozniak. Beebe, Lingen and Witham have missed spring practices as they recover from offseason injuries.
Wozniak is the most tenured of the three who have practiced this spring. At 6-10, he is the tallest skill player in college football. The Indiana native started all 13 games last season and made 13 catches for 135 yards. He has played in 31 career games and has totaled 21 catches for 210 yards, but is still looking for his first career touchdown. Wozniak is also a capable blocker and helped pave the way for Minnesota to rush for 34 touchdowns last season, which was the most by the Gophers since 2005.
Kieft redshirted last year as a true freshman and should add some depth to the position this year. He attended Sioux Center High School in Sioux Center, Iowa, and played linebacker and quarterback for the Warriors.
Lingen is a difference maker when he is healthy. The soon-to-be senior was limited to three games last season as he was hobbled by injuries. He caught three balls for 28 yards in 2016. In 2015, he made 33 catches for 428 yards and three touchdowns as he was named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. Lingen was also named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America second team and was Academic All-Big Ten.
Beebe, who is 6-3 and 270 pounds, is a punishing blocker who can help open holes for Minnesota’s dynamic running backs of Rodney Smith, Shannon Brooks and Kobe McCrary. He played in all 13 games last season and made eight starts. Beebe, who was named Academic All-Big Ten, is also a threat in the passing game as he hauled in six balls for 48 yards in 2016.
Witham played in eight games in 2016 after redshirting in 2015, but did not record any statistics.
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